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St. Louis County closing residential treatment center for teens

Drawing of child and scales of justice
Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County will close a residential facility for young people referred by Family Court at the end of the year. On Friday, several teenagers moved out of the Lakeside Residential Treatment Center for the last time.

County officials cited the cost of repairs to the aging building and low enrollment as reasons for the closure. The 55-bed center provided housing, therapy and education for teens referred as part of their sentencing. The residents will resume classes at Marygrove, a Catholic Charities federated agency, on Jan. 3.

“Marygrove has a newer facility and a variety of programs to help the young people. And we also have the responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars,” said Andrea Jackson-Jennings, director of human services for St. Louis County.

Lakeside had an annual operating budget of $3.4 million. The decision will save an estimated $1.4 million, Jackson-Jennings said, because Marygrove will receive $2 million to take referrals for a new intensive residential treatment program.

St. Louis Family Court Administrator Ben Burkemper said referrals have declined in recent years, but the change is proportional to the overall number of sentences being given.

“The severity of the crimes seem to be going up — the robberies, that kind of thing. But overall referral rates from law enforcement, from school, from parents, are going down,” Burkemper said.

Burkemper suggested that could be tied to the overall crime rate going down in Missouri.

Most of Lakeside’s employees will be hired by Marygrove or the Family Court, but about 10 will be laid off, according to county officials.

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